WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States military shot down a “high-altitude object” flying over Alaskan airspace and Arctic waters on Friday afternoon, National Security Council official John Kirby confirmed at the White House.
Kirby said the US doesn’t know who owns the object, and he wouldn’t call it a balloon like the one shot down by the US military on Saturday, which was allegedly owned by the Chinese government.
“We’re calling this an object because that’s the best description we have right now,” Kirby said during a White House briefing to reporters. “We have no idea who owns it, whether it is state-owned, corporate-owned, or privately owned. We simply don’t know.”
He claimed that the Pentagon had been tracking the object for the past 24 hours.
“The object was flying at 40,000 feet and posed a reasonable threat to the safety of civilian flight,” Kirby said during a White House briefing. “Out of caution and at the recommendation of the Pentagon, President Biden ordered the military to down the object, which they did, and it came inside our territorial waters, which are now frozen.”
U.S. Northern Command fighter planes shot down the object “within the last hour,” Kirby said around 2:30 p.m. ET. Before it was shot down, the pilots were able to determine that it was “unmanned,” he added.
President Joe Biden responded briefly to a question from reporters at the White House on the subject. “Success,” the president said of the object’s downing.
According to Kirby, the object was shot down over the Arctic Sea by pilots just off the northeastern coast of Alaska, near the Canadian border.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he’d been “briefed on the matter” and supported the decision to take action.